The Porch Light

News and perspectives from Northern New England's nonprofit leader in affordable housing

Interviewing 101


Casual business people shaking hands at desk

The job interview: potentially one of the most dreaded – but necessary – events of our adult lives. But beyond an hour in “the hot seat,” interviews can – and should – be an interactive process. You are getting to know the company as much as they are getting to know you. The reality is that an interview is a chance to get in the door. Obviously, the employer saw something in your resume and cover letter that made them want to get to know you more. Now is your chance to get to know them too. Here are some basic tips to help you get through the interview and land the job:

  •   Do your homework. Understand the job you’re applying for and what the company wants. Do some research on who they are: what are their core values? Do they have a mission statement? This will help you tailor your responses to the company and help convince them that you’re the best candidate for the job.
  •   Dress for the job. Make every attempt to look as presentable…

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Why Escrows Can Increase in Fixed-Rate Mortgages


Explaining Increasing Escrow: With 2016 just around the corner, many families are looking at their budgets for next year and wondering how the mortgage payment will fit into their finances. Did your mortgage payment increase even though you have a fixed-rate mortgage? That’s because of an increased escrow payment. With any mortgage, there are two reasons why your escrow could increase:


  1. Regular Yearly IncreaseHOC 1

Your monthly mortgage payment includes more than just the principal and interest on your loan.  It also includes money that goes into an escrow account that pays your property taxes and homeowners insurance.  It is completely normal for your mortgage payment to go up a little bit every year as property taxes increase.  Some of the increase that you’re  seeing on your  2016 mortgage payments is simply your mortgage company anticipating that your taxes will rise, and trying to adjust your payment to make sure that your escrow account will have the funds to pay the taxes.


  1. Increase Due to Escrow Shortage

     The reason why our payments are going up more than we are used to is because the mortgage companies underestimated the amount that our property taxes would increase…

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Free financial counseling for Avesta residents


The Avesta NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center (HOC) is partnering with Avesta Housing communities to offer free financial counseling and education to residents. The HOC is excited to help Avesta residents meet their financial goals!

In these financial counseling sessions, affordable-housing residents learn about how to build a strong credit score. The goal of our resident seminar is to demystify how credit works and empower residents with the knowledge they need to feel in control of their credit. The HOC’s credit-counseling clients often say that they are “afraid” to look at their report because they don’t want to face a bad score. This fear stems from the fact that people don’t understand how credit works and aren’t aware how simple changes can increase their score.

fico score, financial counseling, affordable housing, avesta


For example, many people don’t realize that closing old cards you don’t use anymore can decrease the length of your credit history and pull your score down. It’s also important to realize the balances that you carry on your cards are almost as important as whether you pay your bills on time! Instead of paying off cards one at a time, a better strategy might be to…

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Avesta resident embraces healthy living and loses 120lbs


Judy and her granddaughterAvesta Housing resident Judy Pulsifer of Stonecrest in Standish, Maine has lost 120 pounds, thanks to inspiration from an Avesta-sponsored cooking class offered at her property last year. Judy says learning how easy it was to make healthy, budget-friendly food like roasted vegetables and soup motivated her to lose the weight she’d always wanted to lose. Before her commitment to getting healthy, she had become a recluse in her apartment. She had low self-esteem, was lonely, unable to shop for herself and couldn’t enjoy activities with her grand kids. 

After a gastric bypass, other residents at the property joined Judy in her quest to start eating healthier. They began using the buddy system to keep each other on course. Instead of bringing each other cookies, they brought fresh vegetables from the Stonecrest community gardens, which also increased her interest in gardening. They looked forward to their regular cooking classes and encouraged the group to continue.

After losing 14 lbs in the first two weeks, Judy began eating a mostly vegetarian diet, became devoted to portion control and never deprives herself. She says her new lease on life allows her to participate in many new…

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Adams School Condos become new home for Boston Marathon bombing survivor


Sitting on the couch in her new living room at the Adams School Condominiums, Karen McWatters talks about the blue and green rug underfoot – her first purchase for her new home. She built the room around its ocean-like hues, adding green pillows and sea-glass colored vases and candle holders. The whale décor scattered around the condo is a coincidence, she says – her new husband, Kevin, is a fan of the Hartford Whalers ice hockey team, as evidenced by the two ball caps that have prominent (if begrudging, on her part) placement on the console table.

Karen McWatters on porchShe explains that her recovery has hit a bump, and she needs another surgery to walk comfortably on her prosthetic leg. She faces weeks of post-surgery recovery in a wheelchair. She’s all the more thankful now for her new home, which is fully handicap-accessible.

No matter their provenance, the nautical touches seem right at home in the Munjoy Hill condo, where bay windows afford a glimpse of the ocean. Karen closed on the condo last August, and she’s looking forward to walking down to the ocean this summer. Even though…

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